Tomato Bisque ♥ Recipe

Tomato Bisque ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, start with Marcella Hazan's Famous Tomato-Onion Sauce.
Today's rich tomato soup, a creamy tomato bisque that starts off with the famous Tomato-Onion Sauce from the now-deceased Italian cook Marcella Hazan who introduced Italian cuisine to the U.S. and Britain in the way that Julia Child introduced French cuisine. I make Hazan's Tomato-Onion Sauce with fresh tomatoes instead of the usual canned tomatoes. It's stunning!

Aren't tomatoes summer vegetables? (Yeah-yeah-yeah, tomatoes are really fruit not vegetables. But go with me, okay?) Last year, we harvested our first tomato in late June – and then not one more until late August! Most years here in Missouri and much of the Midwest, our best tomatoes are harvested in September and in good years, even well into October. That means that when the food blog world is humming Christmas carols obsessing over fall apples and all-things-pumpkin, our garden is still spitting out beautiful tomatoes.

And yes, such bounty can be overwhelming. By mid September, we've had our fill of Old Liz's Old-Fashioned Cucumber & Tomato Salad, BLTs and even BATTLE Sandwiches. Yet the tomatoes still stack up and up and up.

Even for an I-don't-put-foods-up seasonal cook like me, I am happy to use up bushels of ripe garden tomatoes to put aside some rich tomato sauce, my version of Marcella Hazan's famous Tomato-Onion Sauce. Mine's made with fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. It's so simple, a real revelation. It's not diet food but supremely satisfying.

The first batch or two, I scraped the skins off the tomatoes with a standing cheese grater, an effective albeit messy business. Loathe to lose any tomato essence, I then tossed the skins into the pot with the tomato flesh, fully intending to pull out the skins later. But when it came time to give the tomatoes, well, a whirl in the blender? I just chucked it all in and lucky thing, the skins disappeared! It all makes for a slightly rustic Tomato-Onion Sauce but not so much that you'd really notice. The next batch or two? I just chopped the tomatoes and threw them into the pot, skins and all. So much easier!

Some Tomato-Onion Sauce went into the freezer but one batch, I made Tomato Bisque. Twas a mighty quiet supper that night, silently slurping small servings (ha! all those sibilant s's!) of an ultra-rich totally-tomato soup. I'm adding this soup to a collection of "House Recipes" for fall's very best ripe tomatoes.

That said, if you're not up for an indulgence right now, for a much less-rich tomato soup made with fresh tomatoes, try Summer's Tomato Soup. Or if tomatoes are out of season, try Winter Tomato Soup which roasts canned tomatoes to draw out summer flavor. Both are long- long-time favorites, you won't be disappointed and will save many calories.

Fresh Three-Bean Salad ♥ Recipe

Fresh Three-Bean Salad 'lightened up' ♥ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 The traditional three-bean salad – or hey! a wonderful two-bean salad when yellow beans are nowhere to be found as in my recent photo update! The recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated, they did a "recipe makeover" with fresh green beans instead of canned green beans. Me? I took Cook's Illustrated's recipe and did an even bigger makeover, making it lighter with way-way less oil and way-way less sugar. The results? Fabulous. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2007~
~more recently updated recipes~

How is it that so many great potluck dishes rely on canned vegetables? Maybe it's because they're dashed together before church or an afternoon gathering? No matter.

Making a three-bean salad with fresh beans – when you can, with a mix of yellow and green beans, is especially pretty! – does take longer but the outcome is, well, praise-worthy. In fact, it wouldn't take much longer to double the recipe, which is what I'll do next time, this is so good! And don't hesitate to just make the salad with just green beans, that third bean is really for color, not taste.

The recipe inspiration came from a Cook's Illustrated e-mail. I've lightened it considerably, dropping the oil from 8 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons, the sugar from 12 tablespoons first to 4 tablespoons and then to 2 tablespoons. These changes really make the salad all about the beans – and isn't that the point? After all, the recipe name isn't "Oil and Sugar Salad." I questioned the introduction of parsley but in the end, was glad I kept it in. Parsley adds important new dimensions of flavor and freshness.

Turkish Cucumber-Tomato-Olive Chopped Salad with Sumac ♥

Turkish Cucumber-Tomato-Olive Chopped Salad with Sumac, another healthy summer salad ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. Vegan. Low Carb. WW Friendly. Totally Addictive.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's gorgeous summer salad: A colorful crunchy mix of fresh-fresh summer vegetables in a lemony dressing spiced with the delightful sourness of sumac plus cumin, smoked paprika and oregano. It makes a great supper salad or better yet, a salad for a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern meze platter. Weight Watchers Friendly, just 1 Freestyle point. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Primal. Vegetarian. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". And naturally, completely delicious. graphic button small size size 10

So yeah, call me summer's broken record. Every year about this time I am surprised to experience the same thing: just how easy and fun it is to cook when tonight's tomatoes were picked from the garden this morning, when we've been waiting/watching patiently for just the right moment to pluck an expanding green pepper from the vine, not too big, not too small.

Not that there's any cooking to throw together this little gem of a salad, just some quality time with a knife and cutting board, is all.

This Turkish Chopped Salad was a very-last-minute addition to a family swim party, good thing we all played hard in the pool because man-alive, did we ever eat! Green Chile Burgers topped with jack cheese and the oh-so-gorgeous Green Chile Sauce (Salsa Verde) I'd made the night before. Ratatouille filled with vegetables from the garden. We were so full, so satisfied that instead of making the peach cobbler I'd intended, I plopped the kids at the kitchen table with a jug of milk and Banana Oatmeal Cookies. My kinda party.

Now this crew rarely raves. But the Green Chile Sauce and this Turkish Chopped Salad, they got compliments. And more compliments. And more compliments.

I'll take a little credit but mostly, the garden earned all the accolades. The peppers this year are oh-so-good and I really do recommend skin-thinned garden peppers here (and the green ones, to boot) versus their thicker-skinned grocery store Dutch bell pepper counterparts.

Quick Summer Squash & Tomato Sauté ♥

Quick Summer Squash & Tomato Sauté, another easy summer vegetable recipe ♥ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 A simple-simple skillet sauté, an answer to the summer vegetables that pile up from the garden-grocery and appear in mounds in the corner-grocery. It's just barely cooked summer squash (for color, both green-skinned zucchini and sunny-colored yellow squash) with a pile of garlic and a little tomato. Low Carb. Very Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. graphic button small size size 10

Holding out on you? Not intentionally! Way back in 2013, I concluded that this quick, summery vegetable sauté was just "too simple" for A Veggie Venture. But I kept making it, one summer after another. And five years later? I t-h-r-i-v-e on simple recipes! Maybe readers do too?

Call me a recipe minimalist: a funny description for someone who's been collecting and sharing recipes since she was about 10 years old, an unlikely orientation for someone who's called herself a food writer / food blogger since 2002.

But I find myself wanting fewer, not more, recipes. I want them to fit a 3x5 recipe card or easily commit to memory. I want them to call for ingredients that are easy to find and nearly always on hand. I want them to ebb and flow from meal to meal. And because of – well, this – I want my now 92-year old father who abhors anything "mushy" to not turn up his nose at more vegetables. (For the record, he has no idea how many vegetables and healthy calories I sneak in, thank you Green Smoothies.)

Quick Summer Squash Sauté definitely qualifies on all measures. Since 2013, I've made one skilletful after another, some times as a simple side for dinner but more often as bed for breakfast eggs. Once, on a warm, late-summer evening? I nestled smoked chops in the vegetables: so pretty, so seasonal, so wonderful.

I suppose you could call it a barely-cooked, one-skillet Ratatouille, minus the eggplant. It's especially pretty when made with two different kinds of summer squash, I'm partial to green-skinned zucchini and yellow-skinned yellow squash and the tiny red and yellow tomatoes our garden spits out from now until early fall, so sweet, I call them garden candy. If you have just-harvested garlic, all the better.

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

Cauliflower Steaks with Warm Corn & Poblano Salsa ♥

Cauliflower Steaks with Warm Corn & Poblano Salsa, another vegetarian supper ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Today's easy summer supper: Thick slices of cauliflower ("steaks" we call them) roasted until golden and topped with a warm salsa of summery vegetables, poblano and corn. Very Weight Watchers Friendly, just 2 Freestyle points. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real (with a vegan dressing). Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

It took me – oh dear, this is embarrassing – seven years to embrace cauliflower steaks. There's photo evidence, way back in 2011. In 2018? It's Cauliflower Steaks over and over again. They're just so, well, thrifty! When I cut up a head of cauliflower for Roasted Cauliflower (A Veggie Venture's very first recipe back in 2005!), the florets shrink so much that the cauliflower doesn't seem to go far.

Cauliflower steaks are totally different! They seem meaty and substantial, even though after the steaks are cut, there's still lots of cauliflower left over for something else. You'll definitely be looking for ways to use up the rest of the head. (Hello, cauliflower recipes!)

Cauliflower makes no list of "Mexican" vegetables although as our international food distribution system goes, I suspect that much of the cauliflower found in the U.S. is grown in Mexico. But on Day Two of our month-long Deep Mexico cooking adventure, I had a head and a half of cauliflower to use up and no surprise, turned to steaks. This was a fun, easy summer supper, healthy too, perfect for Meatless Monday or another vegetarian supper.

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!


Eloisa’s Jicama & Orange Salad ♥

Eloisa's Jicama & Orange Salad, another healthy salad ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 What a special find, this jicama salad recipe from a reader in Mexico! It's quick to make and easy to keep on hand. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly, Zero Freestyle Points! Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. And wonderfully refreshing during hot weather! graphic button small size size 10

Nothing like seven years of procrastination before taking proper note of a recipe a reader left in the comments in this recipe for Jicama Slaw. "My family in Mexico loves this recipe," Eloisa wrote. "Children love it. We take it on picnics, in lunch boxes, or as a snack in hot weather."

But we were a few days into our Deep Mexico: Ingredient-Driven Mexican Meal Prep eating and cooking adventure last month so sure enough, we had not one but two jicamas in the fridge, oranges to boot. Eloisa's Salad Time! That's the thing about focus, one of our big lessons from that month-long deep dive into Mexican (and plenty of Mexican-ish) cooking. Good eats, all month long!

Day One, Eloisa's salad fell into the Maybe-But-Probably-Not category, it was gooooood, you know, just not special, perhaps an acquired taste? Day Two, I was swooning over the fresh combination of jicama, orange and chili powder. Day Three, I had two big helpings for lunch. So give Eloisa's Jicama & Orange Salad a taste when you make it (and be sure to adjust the salt and especially the chili powder) but then put it away for a day (even two) before passing judgment. Okay? Okay!

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

My Favorite New Way to Roast Beets ♥

My Favorite New Way to Roast Beets, another time-tested technique ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 A new way to roast beets, in a moist, vinegar-y environment, turning out roasted beets that are just slightly pickled. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Freestyle Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. graphic button small size size 10

Oh people, it's almost here! No ... not summer, not vacation. Beet season. And more specifically beet salad season.

Apparently I'm #NotAlone because beet salads pop up on restaurant menus #AllTheTime. (Sorry, let's hope that a good beet salad will cure a bad case of #HashTagFever ...) What's astounding to this connoisseur of beet salads is the chefs' creativity: no two beet salads are alike. What unites all those creative salads is the main ingredient: the beets. And isn't it interesting that the beets themselves are much the same?!

No more. Enter Olio, my favorite restaurant here in St. Louis.

Funny story about Olio's owner, Ben Poremba. I first wrote about him for my column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2013. A couple of years later, my husband and a new client interspersed legal talk with food talk. "You should see my son-in-law," the client raved. "He opens the fridge and a half hour later we sit down to a feast." The client's son-in-law? Ben! Small town, this St. Louis.

Anyway. Ben's great. And Olio's my kinda place.

But when I wrote about Olio's Beet Salad last summer, I was so struck how the beets were roasted, yes, but also just very slightly pickle-y ... not as pickle-y as Refrigerator Pickled Beets, say, just a tiny tickle of pickle.

And that's when My Favorite Way to Roast Beets first faced competition. Will that long-time favorite beet-roasting technique survive? You bet. But every so often, it's great to have roasted beets with just a touch of vinegary sharpness ... and then, Beet People, you pull out this recipe.

Summer Easy, a special collection of Less Cookin' and More Livin' recipes especially for summer ♥ KitchenParade.com all summer long.
This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long ever since 2009 at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!